The U.S Postal Service traditionally has been the federal government’s most trusted agency, doing a pretty good job of delivering and processing 472 million pieces of mail each day.
But that reputation is about to take a hit. President Donald Trump’s new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, has effectively ordered his troops to purposely delay mail delivery to save on overtime costs.
We have stressed the need for a top-notch postal service, especially during a pandemic when the timely delivery of everything from unemployment checks to medicines is of the utmost importance.
To assure those timely deliveries, mail carriers sometimes make multiple daily trips to their local postal distribution center to get more mail. Trips occurring late enough in a shift to possibly merit overtime now would be prohibited.
“One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that — temporarily — we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks,″ according to a postal service document obtained by the Associated Press.
The postal service has financial troubles. No doubt. But as postmaster, DeJoy could reasonably argue for his agency to get a cut of the trillions of dollars in COVID-19 stimulus funding.
And he could fight to end an onerous law requiring the postal service to pre-fund billions of dollars in health care benefits each year for future retirees, which no other agency must do. No wonder the postal service was $8.8 billion in debt last year.
But for DeJoy, to go to battle for the agency he runs apparently is a bridge too far. A Trump donor with no previous postal service experience, he was installed by a president who openly mocks the postal service as a “joke” while claiming falsely that it undercharges the retail giant Amazon for deliveries.
And DeJoy is no less disparaging. In a memo outlining the new rules, DeJoy has likened the postal service to once “untouchable” U.S. Steel, asserting that “the largest company in the world” is now “gone.”
Far from gone, U.S. Steel is a $3 billion-a-year company that employs almost 30,000 people.
The post office needs a fix. Trump has sent in a guy with a dull hatchet.
What are the chances that Trump, who fears mail-in balloting benefits the Democratic Party, is simply trying to neuter the postal service to improve his re-election prospects? Knowing Trump, we’d have to say pretty good.
In 34 states, absentee ballots have to be received by election officials, not just postmarked, by Election Day.
In Louis DeJoy, Trump appears to have found himself another Bill Barr: a bootlick willing to undermine a government agency — and our democratic institutions — to further the boss’s personal political aims.
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